How To---

How To Choose The Right Fridge For A Small Kitchen

How To Choose The Right Fridge For A Small Kitchen

Anne-Marie Brunet of Sheridan Interiors in Cornwall, Ontario, wrote an excellent blog post about choosing a refrigerator for a small kitchen. I’m a BIG fan of counter depth refrigerators: I’ve got one myself and love how it looks in our kitchen.

What I always tell families is that the upside is they fit so nicely and increase the visual space of your Kitchen. The downside is that you might need…

Kitchen Update

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I’ve made another video to go along with this blog post. You don’t have to read the post if you don’t want to - you can scroll right down to the video and watch it instead.

I helped Lisa update her tired Kitchen on a strict budget. You’re going to enjoy this one because it came out just the way we all hope our semi-DIY projects will—successfully! I gave her direction: resources (people to call, websites to visit, paint color suggestions, lighting ideas and technical advice. She handled ALL the project management, which is not easy. Buying and coordinating the delivery and installation of every element takes a lot of determination and the patience of a saint. But she did it!

Here’s a Before photo:

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Next is the concept board that showed how her selections were all going to play together very nicely.

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And take a look at it now:

Buh-bye dated kitchen. Now this is what I would call a remarkable transformation! White cabinets against warm brown hand-scraped floors may be termed “farmhouse” right now, but this is a classic look that will stand the test of time because every element is gorgeous.

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Those elongated subway tiles are hand-made, taking the sharp edge off the look of a basic white subway tile. I bet Lisa runs her hands over those tiles on a daily basis (okay, maybe weekly).

The next photo is a Before of the peninsula. Just your standard flat wood back.

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Now take a look at it with some simple new moldings:

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What a difference, right? I can’t pick which new addition is my favorite, but this has got to be near the top of my list!

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The sweet roman shade window treatment came from an Etsy vendor. Don’t you just love Etsy? It’s becoming a regular shopping site for absolutely everyone!

Oops! Did I forget to call out the new Thunder White granite counters? They’re hard to miss! Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

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Lisa is a big Rae Dunn pottery fan. On the other side of the kitchen there’s a counter that serves as the coffee station, but Lisa also likes to decorate it for various holidays with pieces from her extensive collection. Such a welcoming kitchen!

Jeez, I almost forgot to insert the video I made of this project. Here it is. Enjoy!


Ciao!

Anne





Moving Tips From The Experts

I haven't had a chance to post on the blog lately, so when I received a request from a moving company called Bellhops to write post for me, I was all ears!  While I haven't worked with this company yet, I checked them out and was impressed.  They're a moving company with a very updated vibe, and, since moving is something that many of us have done (and sometimes many times), I thought you would all enjoy hearing what they have to say.  So here it is!

THINGS TO DO AFTER YOU’VE MOVED IN

One of the best things about moving into a new house is making it yours. Take the opportunity to flex your creative muscles and decorate in the style you’ve always wanted. Whether it’s a fixer-upper or turn-key ready, there are an endless amount of things you can do that can transform a house into a home.

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PAINT

A fresh lick of paint has the power to quickly start putting your stamp on your new space. If you just want a quick freshen, go for colours like white, creams or greys.  Neutral palettes give a clean, crisp base to build upon.

But, saying that, a bit of vibrancy is always a good thing. Colour is a powerful tool.  Colours can influence our emotions and perceptions, so this is an opportunity to try some out.  Do a bit of research into your favourite shades and see if they match the vibe you want your home to have.

If you are game to take some risks, and are thinking about bold or unusual colour combinations then you should go for it! However, before you commit to something like a fuschia kitchen, it’s always advisable to chat to an expert first. They will be able to advise you on what will suit the shape, size or style of your rooms. A professional will work with you on all the different factors that determine what will work best.  

GET COZY

Unless you are super minimalist, you’ll probably want to make your new home as cozy as possible, as quickly as possible. And when it comes to comfort, little things can make a huge difference.

Treat yourself to things like a new set of mugs and everyday glassware.  New dish towels for sure!

Candles, cushions and throws will all add to the ambiance. A gorgeous new table lamp or light shade works wonders for creating a warm atmosphere.

Maybe most important are your prized possessions. Hang your photo frames, wall art and mirrors straight away and it will really start to feel like home.

UNPACK

It’s tempting to unpack the things you need and ignore the rest. But you will never feel truly settled if you ignore stacks of boxes. Set aside time to properly sort your stuff. Find a home for everything you want to keep and sell it or donate what you don’t.

It’s always best to eliminate clutter from the start. This will help you to keep your new place clean as you go on too. Storage is essential. There are so many inexpensive solutions available these days, not just closets, but storage boxes, shelves, drawers, stackable containers. There are loads of awesome hacks out there that help to make the most of your home.     

LIGHTS OUT

They say home is where you lay your head down at night and so a bed is one of the most important things in any house. If you have brought your own, maybe it’s time to think about an upgrade and if you have moved into somewhere where your bed no longer fits, it's time to go shopping!

When decorating your home, there will always be things you will want to add to and tweak as time goes on. But tackling the bigger things and creating an inviting environment is best done at the beginning. Then you can spend your time exploring your new neighborhood!

I hope these tips are helpful and that you'll consider Bellhops for your next move!

Thanks,

Micheal Brennan

Bellhops

3 Tips For Fireplace Updates

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Are you ready to update your fireplace?  If so, I've got 3 tips to share with you, along with a couple of photos from a recent project.  Above is the "before" fireplace photo.  My clients wanted to put the flat screen tv above the mantel and bring a more transitional style in the room. 

Here's what we did:

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It's like someone turned on the lights!

Tip #1 - create more visual space on the fireplace wall.  We did it by pulling the new custom window treatments over to the side.  This gives a more open feeling.

Tip #2 - use a new material.  In this case, we tore the whole sheetrock, brick and wood face down and rebuilt it with stacked travertine.  The stone wraps to the wall, creating 3" sides so it doesn't look flat.  The mason had to replace the old sheetrock with Durock cement board, but that's standard when working with heavy tile.  The hearth floor got a sturdy porcelain tile.  Looks fabulous!

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Tip #3 - Consider using a nice chunky board from the lumberyard as your mantel.  This piece of poplar, stained a walnut color by our crackerjack carpenter,  is less rustic, more refined than a reclaimed beam.  He also created what I'll call a backsplash with the poplar because we made the whole shebang a little lower than the old fireplace.  With 9' ceilings, we needed more breathing space for the TV.  I think the sound bar (sitting in the center of the mantel) looks better in front of wood rather than a painted sheetrock wall.  

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Tip #4 - this isn't really a tip, it's a thought.  I understand the desire to get rid of entertainment centers, so the TV has to go somewhere--often it's above the fireplace.  But look how pretty the room is with a piece of artwork on the wall!  This is "Misty No. 1" by the talented Michelle Woolley Sauter of One Coast Design.  I photoshopped it in, with her permission.  I love the frameless style.

Take a look at where the TV used to reside in the room:

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This was a perfectly nice custom built entertainment center, about 16 years old.  Isn't it amazing how things have changed over those years?  It's hard to keep up with everything about TV's, including how to install them!

To recap - visually lighten the space, change out your hearth material and use a chunky piece of wood as a mantel.  Then light that fire and enjoy!

Ciao,

Anne

 

Advice from a design pro: Get the right lighting, ditch clutter, be happy!

I haven't posted in such a long time.  It was a whirlwind summer with lots of great projects and family time (the beach was awesome, but remind me to tell you about our visit to Chicago later).  I'm working on getting you caught up with some yummy photos by the end of the week, but for now here's a post that somehow never got published back in May!  

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It's always fun to be featured in print and digital media. The News & Observer here in Raleigh, NC, published this article in May - if you would rather see their page,  Here's the link to the article,   Most of the photos here were taken by the talented Marilyn of Style House Photography.

My design signature: I lean toward clean lines and calm interiors. I urge clients to pare down the “stuff” and focus on small details that build continued interest in the room. Contrast welt on upholstery, interesting lampshades and mixing antiques with new furnishings are always present in my work.

Biggest design mistake you see in homes: Nothing is more important than the right lighting, whether it’s for mood, safety or function, yet it’s often completely overlooked.

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Easy ways to address that mistake in three quick tips:

1. Replace the big incandescent or CFL bulbs in your recessed cans with Cree’s TW Series LED replacement bulbs for recessed cans. They’re sold at Home Depot and cost about $10. 65-watt equivalents are usually bright enough. Cree is a local company and those bulbs are fantastic (and dimmable).

The right lighting made all the difference in the use of this kitchen.

The right lighting made all the difference in the use of this kitchen.

2. If you’re lucky enough to have 9-foot ceilings or higher in your kitchen plus an island, hang some pretty pendants over it. This will bring light down closer to the surface where meals are being prepared, homework is being done and conversations are happening. A hanging height rule of thumb is for the bottom of your fixture to be 32 to 36 inches from the surface.

3. Scatter light fixtures around the room. Ceiling lights are for navigation, accent light provides a welcoming glow and task lighting lets you read comfortably in your favorite chair. All three need to be in almost every room.

Best design advice you can give: Enjoy your home. Your goal is not to impress anyone with Instagram-worthy décor. Your goal is to smile every time you walk through the door at the end of the day. Add attractive storage to hold stuff that wants to pile up on the counters, put colorful artwork on those neutral walls and display grandma’s treasured china in an old plate rack you find at the Flea Market, SuzAnna’s Antiques or Market Imports.

Gorgeous window treatments warmed this room right up.  Isn't it inviting?

Gorgeous window treatments warmed this room right up.  Isn't it inviting?

Best advice for window treatments: Big, high windows in many Triangle homes are beautiful, but they also make the room feel kind of cold and exposed. Frame your windows – and their lovely views – with drapery panels. They soften the lines, polish up the room and instantly add a note of luxury.

Go-to trim color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster is my favorite white for beautiful moldings – and use a high gloss finish. Light sneaks in from different sources and the lovely sheen of high gloss paint on your trim is a little bit of magic.

Best decorating bang for the buck: Invest in a couple of hours of time with an experienced interior designer. Designers are happy to do consultations and you will get lots of ideas to implement as time and budget allow. The average hourly rate for local designers seems to run between $100 and $175, and many offer a consultation package (2 hours plus some follow-up resources, for example) in the ballpark of $365. Designers can cover a lot of details in one or two rooms in that amount of time and it can easily save homeowners that much in avoided mistakes.

This is the photo they used in the print edition of the newspaper--one of our grand-dogs, enjoying a chair, taken with my iPhone!

This is the photo they used in the print edition of the newspaper--one of our grand-dogs, enjoying a chair, taken with my iPhone!

How to buy the right things when shopping: I always ask my clients to come up with three or four words that describe how they want their rooms to look when they’re finished decorating. The words cannot be “warm, comfortable and inviting” – too generic. Dig a little deeper to find words that are more meaningful and personal. We all like so many things that we see in magazines, in the stores and on TV, so those three words can really drive the bus when deciding what to buy. Does the item match up with your three words? If not, put it down. You can admire it without having to buy it. This works for everything from sofas to accessories.

Do you have a current design challenge in your own home? I just bought two gold candle sconces from Vintage Vault in Durham. They’ve got big faceted glass prisms hanging from every possible point. Quite fussy, fun and fabulous. However, my house is rather tailored – not fussy at all. But I promise I will soon find a place to showcase those two sparkly sconces.

UPDATE!  I hung the sconces on an accent wall in our Living Room.  New LED candles are on their way as I type.  Yes!  Projects in designer's homes can stretch on for a very long time!  LOL!

UPDATE!  I hung the sconces on an accent wall in our Living Room.  New LED candles are on their way as I type.  Yes!  Projects in designer's homes can stretch on for a very long time!  LOL!

Ciao,

Anne

Another Must-Have To Make Your Office Run Smoothly!

Meet Sheila Rennart of Quick Bookkeeping, Inc., (click on her business name back there to get the link) here in Raleigh.  Of course I've been keeping my accounts straight throughout the years, but it has taken a LOT of time to do that--because knowing how to add, subtract, multiply and divide isn't the same as accounting.  If you're running a business, this is another one of those things you need to hand over to an expert.  Sheila LOVES accounting (thank you, God, for making all kinds of people)!  AND she taught Karen and I how to use the accounting software.  She is our hero.

Do you think you can't afford a bookkeeper?  The truth is that you can't afford not to hire a bookeeper.  She saves you money.  Go figure.  I won't share Karen (my Business Manager, talked about here), but I can share Sheila!

Ciao,

Anne